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Jilby John et al.

UJAHM 2016, 04 (01): Page 26-30

ISSN 2347-2375


Available online:
Review Article


Jilby John , Akhilesh Shukla2, Leena Nair P3, Viswanathan Nampoothiri4, Jaya Shankar Mund5
PG Scholar, Dept of Samhita, Sanskrit & Siddhanta, Amrita School of Ayurveda, Vallickavu, Clappana P.O., Kollam Dist, Kerala, India
Assistant Professor, Dept of Samhita, Sanskrit & Siddhanta, Amrita School of Ayurveda, Vallickavu, Clappana P.O., Kollam Dist, Kerala, India
Assistant Professor, Dept of Samhita, Sanskrit & Siddhanta, Amrita School of Ayurveda, Vallickavu, Clappana P.O., Kollam Dist, Kerala, India
Retired Sanskrit Professor, St.Baselius College, Kottayam, India
Professor & H.O.D., Dept of Samhita, Sanskrit & Siddhanta, Amrita School of Ayurveda, Vallickavu, Clappana P.O., Kollam Dist, Kerala, India

Received 29-12-2015; Revised 28-01-2016; Accepted 27-02-2016

*Corresponding Author: Jilby John
PG Scholar, Dept of Samhita, Sanskrit & Siddhanta, Amrita School of Ayurveda, Vallickavu, Clappana P.O., Kollam Dist, Kerala, India, 690525

Manuscripts are the hand written or manually written original documents. Thousands of years ago when printing technology was not
available, knowledge or information was stored by writing it on leaves or barks of specific plants. The science of studying manuscripts
is known as manuscriptology. A countrys pride resides in its culture and heritage. It is evident from the richness of archeology,
monuments, arts & crafts including manuscripts. Hence, it is granted a top place of honor to the science of manuscriptology.
These are the basic historical evidence and have great research value. It is estimated that India possesses more than five million
manuscripts, making the largest repository of manuscript wealth in the world. AYUSH department, under the government of India
consider the different steps in manuscriptology e.g. collection, conservation, cataloguing, translation, critical edition and publication
of manuscripts as important aspects of literary research in Ayurveda. To perform this work there is need of collaboration of various
scholars of Ayurveda and languages like Sanskrit along with many trained people and experts in this field. Several treatment methods
and medical formulations are yet to be discovered from the manuscripts. A large number of manuscripts are in a precarious state and
are in danger of getting irretrievably lost. These are available in personal possessions of some people who even unaware of its
importance. So it is our duty to preserve these knowledge and make it available to the world.
Keywords: Manuscripts, Cataloguing, Critical edition, Heuristics, Recension, Emendation.

The word Manuscript is originated from a Latin word Manu
scriptus, which means written by hand. Here Manu means
hand and scriptus means to write1. The treasure of the wisdom
has come down from generation to generation by oral
tradition, and then written on different plant leaves and now it
is the era of digitalization2. Manuscripts are found in every
part of the world where human beings put their thoughts and
experiences into a written form3 the science of study of
manuscripts is known as Manuscriptology. India has largest
collection of Manuscripts in world.
A handwritten document which has scientific, historical,
literary or aesthetic value can be considered as a manuscript4.
These are available in different scripts and written on variety
of forms. Communication is essential for human existence.
Our ancestors communicated their thoughts, words and ideas
through the media of writing, painting or inscribing in
different surfaces, these are nothing but the manuscripts.

Codex, document, text, script, handwriting5.
There are number of scripts available throughout the world
and the common scripts are as follows.
1 .Vatteluthu 2.Tamil 3.Grantha 4.Sarada 5.Nandinagari
6.Tigalari 7.Devanagari
Inner bark of Bhurja-patra (Birch barks),aguru bark, Metals
like gold, silver etc, Inscriptions on rocks, metals, palm leaf,
paper etc.
Feathers, Brush, Pen, Stylus
In ancient India knowledge spread verbally through the word
of mouth from the teacher to the disciple, hence it was called
Shruti. But with the discovery of scripts, written records
gradually replaced the verbal transmission of thought6.

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Jilby John et al. UJAHM 2016, 04 (01): Page 26-30

Papers were also used by them in the later stages and made
into pustaka.In the twenty-first century with the help of
computers we are carrying and conveying knowledge.
The science of study of manuscript is known as
Manuscriptology. There are two steps involved in,
Primary and Secondary steps. Primary step includes
collection, conservation and cataloguing of manuscripts.
Wherein secondary step, it contains transcription, translation,
critical edition and publication.
A. Primary steps
i. Collection:
Collection of maximum number of manuscripts scattered all
over the world forms the first requisite in manusriptology.
Manuscripts are huge oceans of knowledge containing
innumerable pearls of principles and information. These are
available in personal possessions of some people who even
unaware of its importance.7
Basic dangers to a manuscript collection:
The dangers to a manuscript collection can be termed as
factors of deterioration. These factors can be categorized as
human factors and natural factors. The biggest danger to
collections is the human factor, as humans can destroy entire
collections by their inaction as well as by their wrong actions
.Alternatively, humans can also be the biggest protectors of
manuscripts if they take correct action3.
Human factors:
Public apathy
Natural factors:
Fire, water, natural calamities ,Insect attack,
microbiological attack ,dust, environmental pollution and
light, fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity.3
Inherent factors:
The ink or paint used to write may cause damage to the
ii .Conservation:
The methods used to save manuscripts or enhancing the life of
the manuscript can be termed as conservation. If not preserved
properly they are subject to physical damage and decay.Every
manuscripts have different style of preservation.
a) Preventive conservation:
Reducing future risks of deterioration can be termed as
preventive conservation. Various methods like Regular
inspection of the manuscripts, microfilming, photocopying,
lamination, digitization etc. can be used.
b) Curative conservation:
Means stopping active deterioration in the manuscript(s) can
be termed as curative conservation. For example, Fumigation,
apply lemon grass oil, lamp black etc
Conservation techniques in different types of manuscripts:
Coins: Need & importance:
Ancient coins brought light the names of many kings ruled in
Andra namely Gobada, Narana etc. These are discovered from
the Kotalingala coins in the Karimnagar district of Andhra8.
Traditional Asian techniques: Different types of metals are
used to make coins and to preserve it we can use a mixture of

HNO3-20%+ H2SO4-5%+ H2O-75%, Put for half an hour

and then clean it.
Western techniques: Sill all coins in air tight well pack with
the all proper information as weight, size, value, period, metal
using, etc3.
Palm leaf manuscripts: Need & importance:
Palm leaves of talipot or talipat (Corypha umbraculifera, C.
taliera) and palmyra (Borassus flabellifer) were common
writing surfaces in ancient India. The Buddhist Canon was
written on palm-leaves and we got this reference from the life
of Yuan Chwang. The oldest palm-leaf manuscript was found
in Sikiang, China9.
Traditional Asian techniques: Use lemon grass oil, citronella
oil for clearing words and then we can read it easily. Apply
lampblack and it also helpful for easy reading. Usually to
fasten the manuscripts, holes are punched on the leaves and
cords are passed through them. These are then placed in
between two stiff flat wooden boards having the same type of
holes for passing the cords. The wooden boards press the
leaves from both the sides, prevent curling at the edges and
chipping by abrasion10. The manuscripts were wrapped in
yellow or red cotton cloth.
Western techniques: Use of A.C. rooms to preserve the palm
leaf manuscripts.
Paper manuscripts: Need & importance:
The word paper comes from the Latin word Papyrus,
invented in 109 China. In India, handmade paper
manuscripts were used commonly in the 18th century11.
Papers help us to keep the knowledge in book form.
Traditional Asian techniques: Clean the paper with soft
brush then apply pesticides to all sides of paper use tress paper
(Japani tissue paper) and transparent cloth (Irani cloth) for
lamination.3 Traditional herbal pesticides like turmeric
powder, snake slough etc are used as a repellent to insects
Western techniques: With the using of Leaf caster machine
and reinforcement of banana tissue culture pins RS. 7 required
for each page of manuscript.3
Modern concept of preservation:
Awakened by the alarming rate of destruction of manuscripts,
modern devices and techniques are being developed and
utilized. The World Wide Web holds millions of websites and
the Internet is the market place for research, teaching,
expression, publication and communication of information.12
Manuscript conservation centers
The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) was
established in February 2003, by the Ministry of Tourism and
Culture, Government of India aimed to locate, document, and
preserve these manuscripts .In order to connect India's past
with its future, its memory with its aspirations.12 At present,
the Mission has a network of 34 MCCs across the country
which are the following.13
iii. Cataloguing:
It is the process of classifying and arranging objects in a
particular order. A catalog helps the reader to locate the
manuscript easily in a short time. Cataloguing is an important
method of making the manuscripts easily accessible for the
research community. Catalog of Catalogues or New
Catalogues Catalogorum (NCC) is a comprehensive
compendium of all the manuscripts that are available all over

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the world that lists the manuscripts under name of the author
and title of work. One of the greatest drawbacks of the old and

new Catalogus Catalogorum is that the information is not

widely available14.

Table 1: Names of manuscript conservation centers

Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Leh
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi
Department of Language and Culture, Shimla
The Himalayan Society for Heritage and Art Conservation, Nainital
Vrindavan Research Institute, Vrindavan
Rampur Raza Library, Rampur
Nagarjuna Buddhist Foundation, Gorakhpur
Indian Conservation Institute, Lucknow
Visweshvarananda Biswabandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies, Hoshiarpur
Central Library, Banaras Hindu University, Banaras

Oriental Research Institute, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati
Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad
INTACH Chitrakala Parishath Art Conservation Centre, Bangalore
Tamil Nadu Government Museum, Chennai
Karnataka State Archives, Bangalore
Tanjore Maharaja Serfoji's Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur
Centre for Heritage Studies Hill Palace Museum, Thripunithura
Regional Conservation Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram

Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna
Sri Dev Kumar Jain Oriental research Institute, Arrah
Manuscript Library, University of Calcutta, Kolkata
INTACH Orissa Art Conservation Centre, Bhubaneswar
AITIHYA, Bhubaneswar
Sambalpur University, Burla, Orissa
Krishna Kanta Handiqui Library, Gauhati University, Guwahati
Manipur State Archives, Imphal
Tawang Monastery, Tawang

Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Jodhpur
Mahaveer Digamber Jain Pandulipi Samrakshan Kendra, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), Pune

Scindia Oriental Research Institute (SORI), Ujjain

B. Secondary steps:
Means to write the text as it is to a plain paper. Reading
manuscript directly is very difficult. So it helps the person to
read in a better way. Manuscripts are available in different
languages and one can copy it in the same language. If the
original is in Malayalam, then transcribe it in Malayalam, if it
is in Sanskrit copy it in Sanskrit language
ii. Translation:
It is the process of converting the words of one language to
another. The need for translation in present day life is more

emphasized in the country and one should keep in pace with

time by keeping the developments in the world around. Due to
this step, the person who is from another place and culture can
easily understand our ancient systems and knowledge.
iii. Critical edition:
Editing of the work means reconstructing the text, nearest to
the authors autograph work on the basis of evidences. Critical
edition means close reading and detail analysis of a particular
text. Critical edition is an ancient concept in India.
VedaVyasa, the compiler of Vedas and Puranas, can be
considered as the first critical editor14.

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Method of critical edition:
It includes 2 methods:-lower criticism and higher criticism.
Even though a universal system cannot be proposed for editing
a manuscript an editor can follow a broad procedure based on
his experience and available evidence.14
a) Lower criticism:
It is a process that goes towards the selection of original
reading based on evidences. It goes through 3 stagesHeuristics, Recension and Emendation.
1.Heuristics: The word meaning of Heuristics is to find or to
discover. It is a process of methodological collection, analysis
and study of evidences with respect to the text.14
Heuristics includes 3 stages:

1.1. SiglumIt is the special identification mark given to the manuscript

.The siglum could be based on the script, the source of the
codex, age of the copy, or a combination of any of these. For
example: K12 may indicate a codex from Kashmir belonging
to 12th century, C14 may mean the codex is from Calcutta and
belonging to 14th century.
1.2. Collation:
Collation is the process of collecting all the information
concerning the text in one document .It should be done in a
specially prepared collation sheet .Nowadays one can use the
excel sheets.

Table 2: Blank Excel Sheet

In this sheet one can write the letters in each block .A most
trustworthy codex is taken as the base and that is written in the
first row of squares, one letter in each square .On the left side
and against a row the siglum of the codex compared is written
.By this method the relationship between the different codices
could be identified.
1.3. Secondary sources of evidences:
All works that are directly and closely related to the text on
hand but not the source manuscripts are called secondary
source manuscript is called secondary sources of evidence.
They are commentaries, translations etc
2. Recension:
Recension means critical revision of the text. It is the process
of choosing among the variants of a reading which is closer to
the authors intension.
3. Emendation:
Word meaning is correct the text. It is the suggestion given by
the editor if he is not satisfied with the evidence available to
prove that the text was originally written by the author.
b) Higher criticism:
After lower criticism one can go for higher criticism. Here we
are assessing the period and peculiarities of the author. Higher
criticism probes the following: the style ,the language, the
literary aspects, sources of the work ,life of the author, the
circumstances that made the author to compose the work, the
situation at which the work was composed, influence of other
writers in the field ,influence of the author on other writers in
the field ,the reason for the popularity of the work etc. It needs
good command on the subject and should be able to think in
lines of the author.
iv. Publication:
It is the last step of Manuscriptology. It is a very sad fact that
only 2% of the available material from medical manuscripts
are in the printed form. So we can definitely say literary
research work is not an easy task.

Manuscriptology is the process that listen the pulse of our
past. Manuscripts constitute our most precious national
heritage as rare pieces of recorded knowledge. These
manuscripts are the powerful medium for preservation of our
literary, linguistic, artistic and cultural heritage. So study of
manuscripts is an important aspect in present era.

We acknowledge Dr. Akhilesh Shukla, Assistant professor,
Dept. of Samhita, Sanskrit and Siddhanta, Amrita School of
Ayurveda, Kollam for the help during the preparation of the
article as well as for the suggestions to improve the article.





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Source of support: Nil, Conflict of interest: None Declared

Unique Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicines, 04 (01), January-February 2016